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Walk Islay 8th - 13th April 2018
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Walk Islay 8th - 13th April 2018

Our week-long walking festival takes place annually across the Isles of Islay, Jura and Colonsay.

Join us for 1 walk or 6, the choice is yours.

Walks vary from easy to strenuous and take in the beautiful island scenery, from beaches and lochs, to mountains and moorland. Wildlife abounds in all corners with a chance to see eagles, otters, deer, goat and chough

Download the leaflet here


It is not vital to book any walks this year however we would appreciate a quick email to tell us you are interested in attending any of our walks to footsteps@walkislay.co.uk or post your interest on our facebook site https://www.facebook.com/WalkIslay

Fees and advice

A fee of £5 will be charged for each walk. The cost of a return foot passenger to Jura is £3.60 and to Colonsay £8.30

Bus timetable can be viewed here https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/isle-islay-portnahavenport-askaig-bowmore-port-ellen-ardbeg NOTE school holiday timetable should be used.

Bringing refreshments as well as suitable footwear and clothing are strongly recommended - this includes waterproof boots and gaitors/wellies. We request that smoking is permitted only at the discretion of the walk leader and kindly ask you not to bring your dog due to the presence of livestock with young across the islands. We have tried to grade the walks as easy, moderate, challenging and strenuous.


We have a shared transport group on Facebook. We hope those with cars will be able to provide lifts to walks that the public transport service does not reach. Please request to join the group if you are seeking a lift or are able to offer a space or two in your car https://www.facebook.com/groups/1644688679165939/

Sunday 8th April

Walk 1 – Discover prehistoric and early Christian sites between Port Ellen and Lagavulin.

Meet: 1.00pm
Park: Port Ellen Public Toilets Carpark (on right as you approach village from north)
Walk Leader: Niall Colthart
Level: Easy/Moderate
Distance: 6 miles approx. 3 hours
What to bring: Refreshments and suitable footwear/clothing
On a bus route: No buses on Sundays – see Facebook Group ‘Walk Islay Shared Transport Group’

A gentle walk to start off our walking week. Join Niall Colthart to learn about the prehistoric and early Christian sites between Port Ellen and Lagavulin. Our three hour afternoon discovery walk will take in 28 sites of interest including standing stones, chapels with some interesting Mesolithic and Neolithic artefacts along the way. The walk will officially end at Lagavulin Distillery for complimentary drams before walkers make their way back along the Three Distillery Pathway to Port Ellen.

Monday 9th April

Walk 2 –Sgorr nam Faoileann and Glas Bheinn– the rarely visited eastern peaks of Islay

Meet: 9.30am
Park: Ballygrant Hall Carpark (turn up road opposite Labels towards Mulindry, hall on left)
Walk Leader: David Webster and Isobel Freeman
Level: A long walk, strenuous in places across moorland, with some easy rocky sections and boggy places
Distance: 7 miles
What to bring: Lunch and Refreshments plus suitable footwear/clothing
On a bus route: Yes (Ballygrant stop outside Labels – head up road signed Mulindry to hall)

Today is a big challenging walk and should only be attempted by those fit and able. We will shuttle walkers using shared cars the 4km along the minor road south to Storakaig, where we will leave one car for the return shuttle. From the farm gate we will climb up to and along the rocky ridge of Sgorr nam Faoileann (429m). After enjoying the extensive summit views in this rarely visited part of Islay, we will then drop down south following an old wall and climb up to the summit of Glas Bheinn (472m) and then take its west ridge down back down to Storakaig Farm where we rejoin the road for the walk (or car shuttle) back to Ballygrant past some old lead mines. Both hills are ‘Marilyns’ of which there are seven on Islay. Although not a geologically themed walk Dave will relate the landscape to the underlying geology to anybody that’s interested! If the weather is poor a lower-level alternative will be offered starting and finishing at Ballygrant.

Tuesday 10th April – two options

Walk 3 – An expedition inland from Bunnahabhain

Meet: 10.00am
Park: Bunnahabhain – left side at top of slope down to distillery.
Walk Leader: Chris Abel and Sandy Taylor
Level: Strenuous
Distance: 7 - 8 miles
What to bring: Lunch, refreshments and suitable footwear/clothing
On a bus route: No – see Facebook Group ‘Walk Islay Shared Transport Group’

Today we head to the north east of Islay and the island’s most northern distillery, Bunnahabhain. From here we head west uphill through woodland, past Cnoc Sgarabais and on to the summit of Giur-bheinn (318m). From here we hope to have spectacular views east to Jura and its mighty Paps and north to Colonsay, Mull and even Tiree on a very clear day. Our circular route then takes back through woodland and Loch an Dhubhaich back to Bunnahabhain Distillery where we will be welcomed for complimentary drams. Plus don’t miss out on a chance to spot the famous Winterwatch otter outside the distillery!

Walk 4 - Walk to the American Monument, The Oa

Meet: 9.45am
Park: The Oa RSPB American Monument carpark NR282423
Walk Leader: Shona-Isla MacIntyre and Phill Catton
Level: Moderate
Distance: 2 miles (allow 2-3 hours)
What to bring: Refreshments (lunch if you like yours early!), Suitable footwear/clothing
On a bus route: No – see Facebook Group ‘Walk Islay Shared Transport Group’

Today we will meet at the RSPB carpark on the Oa reserve, approx. 40 minutes drive from Bowmore. Our walk leaders for today are RSPB staff members Shona-Isla MacIntyre and Phill Catton. They will lead a circular walk around the stunning cliffs of the Oa to the American Monument. The Monument was built to commemorate the lives lost in two shipwrecks 100 years ago during the First World War. If the weather is good, walkers will enjoy breath taking views across to Northern and the Republic of Ireland.
This walk will take just under 3 hours to complete. Bring your binoculars as there will be a good chance of seeing golden eagle and chough along the way

Wednesday 11th April

Walk 5 – Across the sea to Colonsay for a circular walk to the Arandora Star memorial and Pig’s Paradise (Moderate 4-5 miles)

Meet: 11.30am in order to purchase ferry tickets for 12.15 sailing to Colonsay £8.30 rtn. Meet in passenger waiting room.
Park: Ferry Users Carpark, Port Askaig
Walk Leader: David Hobhouse
Level: Moderate, mostly on hill ground with a few tracks and roads.
Distance: 4-5 miles
What to bring: Refreshments, suitable footwear/clothing, money for ferry ticket (lunch and dinner can be purchase on board the ferry)
On a bus route: Yes bus arrives at 10.29am but no evening bus. Recomend utilise Facebook Shared Transport Group

Today we’re heading up the Sound of Islay and across the sea to Colonsay. We will meet at Port Askaig and catch the 12.15pm sailing to Colonsay arriving at 1.25pm. It is advisable to have lunch during the crossing ready for walking on arrival – this can be bought onboard. Our walk leader David Hobhouse will meet us off the ferry in the village of Scalasaig and we will be transported west for the start of our walk at Kilchattan. From here we will head out to the Sea cliffs, and the Arandora Star memorial, loop back above Pig’s Paradise, and back to the road, finishing in the Heritage centre for a cup of tea. We will then be transported back to Scalasaig to await our ferry which departs Colonsay at 7.15pm getting back to Islay 8.25pm.

Thursday 12th April – 2 options

Walk 6 – Discover Glenastle, The Oa

Meet: 10.00am
Park: The Oa RSPB American Monument carpark NR282423
Walk Leader: David Wood
Level: Moderate – Strenuous on boggy ground
Distance: 6-7 miles
What to bring: Lunch, refreshments and suitable footwear/clothing
On a bus route: No – see Share Transport Group on Facebook

Today we meet at the RSPB Oa reserve carpark from where we will share transport back up the road to the start of our walk near Coillabus. From here we will follow the farm track to Glenastle Loch’s and then keeping in the valley follow the lochs and the river all the way to the sea. This was once a heavily populated area of Islay and many ruins including a watermill can be seen along the way. We then follow the cliffs around the Oa back to Lower Killeyan and the carpark. We hope to see golden eagle, hen harrier and chough on our walk through this RSPB reserve. The ground will be rough and boggy in many areas.

Walk 7 – RSPB Loch Gruinart birding spectacular

Meet: 10.00am
Park: RSPB Loch Gruinart Visitor Centre
Walk Leader: RSPB Staff
Level: Moderate & Easy
Distance: 3.5 miles (allow 2-2.5 hours)
What to bring: Refreshments, Suitable footwear/clothing
On a bus route: No – see Facebook Group ‘Walk Islay Shared Transport Group’

We have two walk options at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve this morning.
The first leaves the visitors centre and heads out onto the moorland heading North and returning to the road beside Moulin, from there we walk along the road to Gruinart farm and then down through the fields and back along the sea wall and return alongside one of the “corncrake corridors”. A moderate walk, 3.5 miles long, about 2.5 hours allowing for bird watching en route.
An alternative shorter walk will also be led by RSPB staff down to the hide, returning through the woodland trail along tracks and paths, about 2 miles and 2 hours to allow for birding en route. Both these walks will start at 10am prompt.

Friday 13th April

Walk 8 – Across the Sound to Jura and over the hills to Craighouse with a ride back!

Meet: 9.00am to catch 9.30am ferry
Park: Port Askaig Ferry Users Carpark
Walk Leader: Louise Muir
Level: Strenuous and challenging in places
Distance: 7 – 8 miles
What to bring: Lunch and refreshments, suitable footwear/clothing. Money for ferry.
On a bus route: Yes arriving 9.16am
Today we will meet at Port Askaig to catch the 9.30am ferry across to Feolin on the Isle of Jura – tickets are bought onboard and paid for in cash £3.60 rtn. It is just a 5 minute crossing and once on the other side we will be met by Jura resident Louise Muir. Our walk will head south along the road before cutting inland and up to the summit of Dubh Bheinn (530m). From here we will be able to see the length of the Mull of Kintyre. We then will descend towards Market Loch (the source of water for Jura’s only whisky) before following the hill down into Craighouse. Transport back to Feolin will be arranged and for those waiting their turn of a lift, the Hotel or Distillery in the heart of Craighouse will be a welcome resting place at the end of a long week’s walking.

Contact Information
E: footsteps@walkislay.co.uk
W: www.walkislay.co.uk
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